We gathered in the auditorium, also the cafeteria and gymnasium, depending on the time of day. The lights dimmed and the musical began. My son stood off-center in the first row, behind the Color Beard Crew. You know, the pirates Captain Blackbeard, Redbeard, Greenbeard, Yellowbeard, Purplebeard; well, you get the picture. Both bearded and hairless crew, mateys, prisonsers, buckaneers and even a stowaway are led in song by the King of the High C’s, a talented fifth-grade Elvis impersonator. Of course, the reviews were outstanding; the show an immediate success.
Oh, my son, you ask? Fine, fine. Well, actually, no, he did not sing. Sometimes I spotted his lips moving and he performed the required body movements at the right time. Except he did not really sing. He did, however, play the pirate part with beaded dreadlocks hanging under his maroon bandana and oversized brown folded hat.
I have lost count of the number of student musical performances attended over the years. I do remember exactly how many concerts in which my kids sang the selected songs. None. Not once in over a decade have any of my three children given more than a perfunctory effort at mimicking singsong effects. Of course, I did not remember this detail as I scoured the basement for the missing pieces of a pirate costume. I did not remember this detail as he selected silver duct-tape to cover the offensive primary colors on the sword. I did not remember this detail as I returned home for the forgotten camera. I remembered this only when I saw my son’s face blankly greeting a sea of proud parents, brothers and sisters, teachers and grandparents. And he did not sing.
Later at home, I asked him about the concert. He looked up from under that big brown hat with a slow spreading smile not unlike a ticking crocodile.
"Pirates don't sing, Mom," he said.
I would like to acknowledge the choir director, Kristen Engelke, who had the pleasure of working with all three of my charming children. Please join me with her in growling, “Aarrrrgg!”